Just more than month after being eliminated from the 2010 NCAA Playoffs, the Wildcats have started to look ahead to the 2011 season, releasing their schedule for an upcoming season that includes a trip Cowboys Stadium.
ACU will be participating in the first-ever Lone Star Conference Football Festival in the upcoming season. The Wildcats are part of a three-game, one-day event featuring five LSC teams and ACU’s opponent, three-time Division II National Champion, North Alabama from the Gulf South Conference.
“We have always had a desire to at least play a game in the metroplex,” said athletic director Jared Mosley. “I think it’s great to get this opportunity to do it and to do it at Cowboys Stadium. I think it also has a great impact in recruiting students from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and it’s a great opportunity for our student athletes to play in a venue like this.”
The Lions finished last season at 9-4 under former Clemson Head Coach Terry Bowden and reached the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The game against North Alabama marks the fourth straight season the Wildcats have started facing a Division II powerhouse.
“Strength of schedule is really the second criteria they use to select playoff participants,” said head coach Chris Thomsen. “I believe you have to go find the North Alabamas of the world to help boost your strength of schedule, but also those are the kind of teams you face in the playoffs.”
Apart from the seemingly annual game against a marquee non-conference opponent, the Wildcats begin with a pair of LSC rivals in their first three games. First up, ACU will travel to Stephenville for a showdown with long-time rival Tarleton State on Sept. 10. The Texans will be looking to avenge a 65-3 thrashing at the hands of the Wildcats in 2010.
Sept. 24 features a match-up with the Wildcats’ closest rival, Angelo State at Shotwell Stadium – the Wildcats’ first game home game of the season. ACU has beaten Angelo State each of the last four seasons dating back to 2006.
The Wildcats will make a second straight trip to Portales, N.M. to face the Greyhounds’ vaunted run-and-gun offense.
After the game against Eastern New Mexico on Oct. 8, the Wildcats begin a stretch of three of four games against teams that made post-season appearances in 2010, beginning with West Texas A&M. The Wildcats beat the Buffs in Canyon to clinch the LSC title last season.
This time around, West Texas will be traveling to Shotwell for a homecoming showdown with Coach Thomsen and the Wildcats on Oct. 15.
After Homecoming weekend ACU, will travel to Wichita Falls for a game against Kanza Bowl-participant Midwestern State, then back home to play Texas A&M-Commerce.
Then the Wildcats make a second trip down south to Kingsville for a showdown with the Javelinas, a team ACU has beaten in seven of the last 10 face-offs after losing 20 straight to the Javelinas from 1984-2004.
ACU wraps up the season against the newest LSC school, Incarnate Word, at Shotwell on Nov. 12.
As the schedule is currently configured, the Wildcats have two open dates on Sept. 3 and Oct. 1, but Mosley hopes to have at least one of those dates filled to give the Wildcats an 11-game schedule.